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COVID-19 death a reminder to keep gatherings small ahead of celebrations

Last Updated Oct 29, 2020 at 5:25 pm PST

Summary

Dr. Bonnie Henry says adding regional-specific orders remains a possibility

The province reported 234 new COVID-19 cases -- the eighth straight day they have surpassed 200

Henry reported outbreaks at four more care homes

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — The death of a woman in her 80s who attended a small birthday party in the Fraser Health Authority is a tragic reminder of the current dangers of COVID-19.

“And by small, less than 10 people were at this home and, unfortunately, somebody unknowingly brought in COVID-19,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday in Surrey, at the centre of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in B.C.

“And even though it was a small party in one person’s home, the majority of people who were in that home became infected with COVID-19, and this person, unfortunately, ended up in hospital and died from it.”

Henry added the woman’s death — the 262nd related to COVID-19 in B.C. — shows the virus can’t tell the difference between large and small gatherings, regardless of where.


Still, she said COVID-19 has been disproportionately affecting communities in the Fraser Valley in recent weeks.

Of the 234 new cases recorded Thursday, 173 are in the Fraser Health Authority, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

It was also the ninth straight day cases in B.C. have surpassed 200.

Many recent cases have been linked to Thanksgiving gatherings.

“We also know that Halloween is coming this weekend. We have Diwali, we have Remembrance Day and other celebrations in the coming weeks,” Henry said.

And with cooler weather, more people are spending time indoors, adding to the challenges of preventing the transmission of COVID-19, she added.

Henry said with Halloween this weekend, trick-or-treating can be done safely in small groups, but reiterated her order issued earlier this week, limiting the number of people in private homes to those who live there and no more than six others.

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“That means no Halloween parties this weekend,” she added.

“Now is a critical time for us to pay attention again to how important it is to stand together by staying apart, and to connect with each other in ways that are safe,” she said.

Fraser Health Authority President Dr. Victoria Lee suggested it’s safer to meet a friend at a coffee shop rather than in someone’s home.

“Even small gatherings can be risky right now,” she said.

“At this crucial time, we’re asking people who reside in the Fraser Health region to take a pause and reconsider as our social interactions outside of our households,” Lee added.

“Please socialize with people outside of your home, such as public outdoor spaces like parks or licensed COVID-19-safe businesses,” she said. “If you need to bring someone home, please ensure that they’re part of your safe six.”

Henry did not issue a new order regarding gatherings in homes, but said one remains a possibility.

“There is the possibility of adding regional specific orders. But we know that most people are following the recommendations that we have and it’s very clear for people to see from the data, we know there’s a lot of transmission in some communities more than others, and it’s not limited to the Fraser Valley,” she said.

“We know there are many people in the communities here who live in large multi-generational homes where transmission of this virus could be especially challenging. So we are asking people to pay attention to that.”

Henry reported outbreaks at four more care homes — Gateway Independent Living for Seniors in Surrey, Mayfair Terrace in Port Coquitlam, Revera Lakeview Long Term Care Home in Vancouver, and Louis Brier Home and Hospital in Vancouver — with three related to infected staff members.

Another outbreak at a care home, Zion Park Manor, is over.

Outbreaks remain active at 25 healthcare facilities.

COVID-19 cases now total 14,109 in B.C.

Of 2,344 active cases, 86 people are in hospital — 46 in Fraser Health. Another 24 people are in critical care, while 5,714 are under active public health monitoring due to being exposed to the virus.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province will hire 200 more contact tracers than the 600 originally planned.